Tundra Travel

Destinations

Lofoten IslandsTundra Travel

General information.

 

The Lofoten is an archipelago in northern Norway. The islands, around 80 in total, are located above the Arctic Circle. Most of the islands are mountainous, the highest peak (Higravstinden) measuring 1161 meters (3800 feet). Lofoten stretches out like a wall of mountains, the "Lofoten Wall". Between the mainland and Lofoten lies Vestfjord. It is here that we carry out our autumn and winter voyages with our sailing vessel Noorderlicht. The Noorderlicht is a beautiful 46 meter long schooner that was built in 1910. The passenger capacity is only 20: it is the ideal ship for those who want a small-group experience. The deck house and saloon are cosy and spacious. The deck house of the Noorderlicht contains a library with a good selection of books on Lofoten and the Arctic besides a selection of novels in various languages. A great moment to catch up on the books you always wanted to read. You can also enjoy the good Noorderlicht cuisine. In the evenings lectures are given, and movies and documentaries are shown.

 

The first settlers on Lofoten arrived more than 6000 years ago. These Stone Age dwellers lived from fishing and hunting, Lofoten was at that time covered by an extensive pine forest. Although these ancient people did not leave much behind, evidence of their existence can be found in the petroglyphs they carved in the hard Lofoten rock. In Leiknes life-size pictures were carved of a Killer Whale, Elk and birds. Lofoten has been the centre of Cod fisheries for more than a thousand years. Cod migrate from the Barents Sea to the south and gather in Lofoten to spawn. The dried and salted Cod, "Stockfish" or "Bacalao", was the staple food in Lofoten and was sold all over the world.

 

One of the great attractions of the Lofoten area are the Northern Lights. Not many people know that the islands are located at exactly the right latitude for seeing the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are caused by eruptions on the sun and can only be seen when it is dark. The fairly long periods of darkness in November and December make our Lofoten expeditions an ideal opportunity to admire this unbelievable phenomenon. Furthermore, the Northern Lights can only be seen when there is little light disturbance, something that is guaranteed in Lofoten.

 

 

Climate.

 

The climate in Lofoten is very mild considering its location north of the Arctic Circle. This is due to the warming effect of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Daytime temperatures in November and December range from -2º to 4ºC (28,4º to 39ºF). In autumn, strong winds can be expected, but quiet days with blue sky are also not uncommon. Snow and sleet can also be expected, and the mountains can have substantial amounts of snow.

 

Due to its location within the Arctic Circle Lofoten experiences the midnight sun in summer. This also means that the sun does not rise above the horizon in winter, in this case from the 4th of December until the 7th of January. The consequence of this for our Lofoten expeditions is that there will be a substantial amount of darkness. This might sound less attractive, but our experience is that it adds to the voyage. Through the daytime there can be great light shows, created by the low sun, while in the evening and at night there are good chances to observe the Northern Lights.

 

 

Flora & Fauna.

 

Although in November and December most seabirds have migrated to warmer regions there are still lots of interesting bird species to observe. The White-tailed Eagle (Sea Eagle) flourishes in Lofoten, it has one of the world´s largest stocks. Other birds often seen include Greenfinch, the Fieldfare and the Redwing. The marine wildlife around Lofoten is surprisingly rich. Although maybe unexpected, the world´s largest deep water coral reef, 40 kilometres long, is located near Lofoten.

 

On our voyages in Lofoten Killer Whales are sometimes observed. Until a couple of years ago Lofoten was one of the best places in the world to observe Killer Whales as hundreds followed the Herring, their staple food, into the Vestfjord and Tysfjord. But this situation has sadly changed dramatically, most of the Killer Whales now staying outside the fjords as the Herring have changed their migration pattern. Although this means that the chance of seeing Killer Whales has reduced, Herring still do come into the fjords and when that happens the Killer Whales follow them, but in smaller numbers. Besides Killer Whales, Pilot Whales are sometimes spotted on Lofoten voyages.

 

 

Frequently visited places in Lofoten are:

 

Svolvær. The commercial centre and main fishing port of Lofoten with about 4000 inhabitants. A nice place to stroll around to watch the great scenery and enjoy the Lofoten night-life.

 

Skrova. A rocky island with about 200 inhabitants. A nice island to explore and climb to the peak (258 meters, 846 feet)) to enjoy a stunning 360º panorama. From the island whale hunting ships still leave to hunt Minke Whales. There are still some harpoon guns standing in the village and there might be whale hunters in the harbour. Good chances of seeing White-tailed Eagles.

 

Kabelvåg (Cappelum Vagum: the bay with the chapel). The very picturesque village of Kabelvåg used to be the most important fishing village in the 19th century. The harbour is now beautifully restored.

Corporate image:Xavier Marlí

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